Native Americans Along The Dan River – Indians in the Dan Valley
The Dan River is named for an early Saura chief, Danapha. The Saura tribe already had villages in The Dan River Basin before the English began settling Virginia in the early 1600’s. There were a number of Indian towns located on the Dan River and its tributaries, the Smith and Mayo Rivers.
At the mouth of Goblintown Creek on Smith River in Patrick and Franklin Counties was a village, which is now under the waters of Philpott Lake. On the north side of the river, at the mouth of Nicholas or Jamison’s Creek was one of the largest Indian villages in the area.
On the Dan River were the historic Saura villages of Upper Saura Town (Stokes County) and Lower Saura Town (Rockingham County). Upper Saura Town , the Mayo River Village site, and the Philpott Archaeological Site were all located on the Tutelo-Saura Path, an Indian trail running from the Valley of Virginia to the Carolina Piedmont. The Native Americans living in the Fairy Stone State Park and Philpott Reservoir area when the English first came were the Saura (Cheraw) Indians.
There are few historical references to the Saura people. References do appear in English records. John Lederer reported visiting Saura villages along the Yadkin River, Catawba River, and Dan River in 1670.
Upper Saura Town & Lower Saura Town
In 1728, William Byrd conducted an expedition to survey the North Carolina and Virginia boundary, and reported finding two Saura villages on the Dan River, known as Lower Saura Town and Upper Saura Town. The towns had been abandoned by the time of Byrd’s visit.
This is a view of the Dan River as seen from the bridge of highway US-311 in southeastern Stokes County. This bridge is about midway between the towns of Madison and Walnut Cove. The historical marker for the Upper Saura Town is located near the western end of the bridge and on the south shoulder of the highway.
Several miles down river is the Lower Saura Town, also on the Dan River and near the present city of Eden. The historical marker is located about 1/2 mile south of the river on highway NC-14 at the intersection of Town Creek Road.
(The photographs are courtesy of Buck Woods)
Saura Tribe Native Americans